Along with a mask and snorkel, a pair of fins are probably the first pieces of dive gear you will buy and rightly so. A good pair of fins can make all the difference while diving, making your movement and propulsion underwater easier. With the wide range of styles, features and types of fins ranging from available today for almost any budget, the choice becomes tougher to make.
Full Foot Fins/ Close-heeled Fins: Also called full-foot pocket fins, the close-heeled fins enclose your entire foot just as a slipper encloses your foot. They are worn barefoot and have an opening at the end for your toes. Generally cheaper than open-heel fins, it’s important to try these fins on and make sure they fit snugly wherein you can still wiggle your toes. Too tight and they can cut circulation and pinch your foot resulting in blisters or chafes. Too loose and they can slip off your foot when you hit the water or kick.
Open- heeled Fins: Open-heel fins or half- pocket fins enclose the front portion of your foot and uses a heel strap to secure the fin to your foot. The heel strap on the open-heel pocket fins can be either adjustable or non-adjustable. Non-adjustable heel straps have an amount of elasticity and hug your heel very closely. Adjustable heel straps have buckles on either side of the foot which allows you to adjust the dive fin to fit your foot. While this type of fin can be worn barefoot, it is preferable and advisable to wear them over the right size Dive booties (neoprene boots). When buying fins of this type, it is advisable to take your boots along with you, since their thickness will need to be taken into account when testing for fit.
Conventional Non-split Fins: This basic type of fin features a fairly rigid blade with ridges and flexibility towards the end. Often considered a good type of Dive fin for Scuba diving in stronger currents, it’s a very popular choice for many a diver.
Split Fins: Split fins are a newer design where the fin blade is split in two parts by a lengthwise slit. Split blade fins are more expensive and said to offer slightly better propulsion and agility than the standard fins. However, some divers believe they are less effective than conventional fins in strong currents.
The only technical difference in the split and non split is the kicking (fining) style. With non-split fins you use your normal kick while in split fin the small kicks (like flutter kicks) are more effective.
Pivoting Blade Fins: A design that has been adopted by a few manufacturers like Mares these fins feature a flex-point in its structure and a V-shaped area of softer plastic to scoop water for better traction and speed as well as allowing you to use alternate kick strokes not possible with splits.
Force Fins: Made exclusively by a California manufacturer, this range of fins is designed to minimize the water turbulence produced, and reduce the diver’s kicking effort. Force Fins are unique in that their design is closely modeled to fish tails with a v-cut at the blade end and they feature an open toe pocket design with adjustable heel straps. Made from polyurethane, the configuration favors speed but not agility.
As always, while buying SCUBA Fins look for a good fit and features that suit your diving needs.